With the help of Freya, Tepic, and several others Beryl had been admitted to the hospital eventually. The doctors were now trying everything to keep the fever under control, but the infection was tenacious.
Countless friends had come to wish the cat a speedy recovery, but others visitors had not been so kind. Bookworm had been forced to set a militia guard outside of Beryl’s door to allow the cat to get their rest, but they could not protect Beryl from the illness. His friends encouraged them to keep fighting both in the waking world and when they were asleep, though they didn’t know it.
One night Beryl had gone to sleep in the hospital, medicated and delirious as the fever was now too strong for the opiates, but when they began to dream they found themselves in a half dug grave where Tepic, Bookworm, and the hospital staff were throwing water on Beryl and pulling them to their feet.
Beryl was disoriented at first, but eventually just went with the flow of the dream and where it was taking them. That happened to be the cabbits arena, which had not been completed in the waking world. It was an imposing structure with gothic architecture that seemed to promise blood to those entering, here at least. Beryl doubted it would look this way when it was finished, especially once they entered and discovered the interior had a boxing ring in the center.
One section of the crowd was filled with friends cheering Beryl on even though the match hadn’t started yet. Avariel even had a banner blanket wishing the kitty success. Another section was filled with betters hoping to see the carnage, and the last section was filled with Beryl’s enemies that had tried to hurt or kill them in the past.
“I RSVP’d for your funeral, cat!” Dr. Dinosaur called out from the crowd, waving a ticket. Everyone on that side of the room started waving their own excitedly. A doberman with scars across his face called out, “Have you heard, cat? Your funeral has sold out! We shall be the only ones attending!”
“Ain’t gonna be a funeral!” Tepic shot back, before turning to Beryl apologetically, “If’n I thought there would be I’d have got a ticket, but yer a hero so there ain’t gonna be one.”
Beryl shook their head and continued past the insanity to the ring. Bookworm provided the gloves while reminding Beryl about everything that Mariah had taught them, and prevented Tepic from giving Beryl a ‘special’ barbed wire.
Most of the hospital staff was there as well. Dr. Sonnerstein offered up some foul smelling concoction which he then poured onto Beryl gloves while Kasa looked for any wounds to sew up. Despite their odd behaviors they were normal compared to the dream Dr. Jekyll. Whichever side of Dr. Jekyll was covered in shadow seemed to be the twisted form of someone else Beryl knew.
But in the other corner of the ring was a black furred wolf that was almost the same size as Beryl. It was not wearing boxing gloves and seemed to be more real than any of the other things around Beryl. It’s yellow eyes were fixated on Beryl who suddenly wished that the chosen sport had been En Garde with silver rapiers…
“Right, yer know what’s at stake Beryl,” Tepic said patting their friend. “There ain’t no cure, least no cure as wouldn’t kill a bloke as soon as yer try it.”
“Yes, you told me that. You also told me there was only one real cure in the legend that would not kill the victim instead.”
“You are not ready for that yet.” Bookworm said softly, and looked at Beryl with quiet sorrow. “I’m so sorry Beryl, but you’re going to have to fight this and keep fighting it. No one can fight it for you or I would, I promise.”
Beryl had heard those words before and winced. Tepic continued where Book had broken off, “We can only help yer fight this fight. But after yer survive only yer can do what I told yer and beat the wolf back fer good after.”
A bell was rung and Beryl’s coaches backed off. It was just Beryl and the wolf for a few moments and it charged forward.
Beryl delivered a quick jab and darted away from the creature’s claws. It was not trying very hard to kill him at the moment taking its time and not making much of an effort yet. Beryl was able to repeatedly pivot and land blows on the wolf which seemed to have some effect on it.
The bell announced the end of the round. Beryl stepped back, amazed at how lethargic the wolf had been during the round, but the wolf didn’t heed the bell and it attacked getting a strike on Beryl’s side.
The cat retaliated and punched the wolf as hard as they could which made it fall to the ground to recover, shaking its head and blinking. The wolf was about to strike again and so Beryl struck first, hitting as hard as they could instead of saving themselves for a future round.
The wolf toppled over, surprisingly to Beryl who had expected them to be a lot stronger than they had been. But as Beryl stood over them triumphantly the body of the wolf vanished. A bell rang and some of the crowd cheered, while others were disappointed in the development.
There was the sound of a bell again, and a new wolf appeared in the opponent’s corner. It stared at Beryl intently showing that the match was not over yet. It was the same size as the first but looked completely fresh from their previous encounter.
Beryl could feel their wound on their side bleeding freely still. Kasa and the doctors called them over to get them ready before the next round started. That was why the wolf hadn’t been trying in the first round. Beryl would eventually wear themselves out trying to fight them and unlike the wolf their wounds and fatigue would remain until they dropped from exhaustion.
Why can’t I ever dream of something nice? Beryl thought as they walked to their own corner clutching their side gently. Like a vacation to Venice. As the doctors treated them and got them ready Beryl promised themselves they were going to Venice when this was all over.